Archive | March, 2011

The communal Botanical Gardens of Sydney!

12 Mar

I took my visiting US relatives to Sydney’s Royal Botanical Garden today. Lovely piece of land championed by Mrs Macquarie (Governor Macquaries wife) due to her love of structured parklands.

A bit of history is that they knocked down a bunch of houses, bakehouses and boat ports to clean it up in 1807. Interestingly it was built alongside Hyde Park because Hyde Park was for walking whereas the Desmene (Domain) was not. Sounds like he wanted a grand lavish park all for himself and his wife!! This argument is furthered by a decree from Gov Macquarie in 1816 that people should stay out of the garden else punishment will be “inflicted on some idle and profligate persons”. Turns out that that warning wasn’t for “proper people”. These day’s the punishment is against the unwitting folk who venture to the Palm Grove cafe for a quick bite to eat. I paid no less than $11.70 for a meat pie and cola!! Highway robbery in the 21st century I say! However, enough lamenting the injustices against the common folk by the rich!

The garden has some great parts that I haven’t visited for a number of years. There are 100+ year old fig’s and some neat feature gardens. Of excitement was the masses of bat’s roosting in the tree’s, a much more “real’ bat experience then our recent trip to the Australia Reptile Park that showcases 8 bats in a small cage, but I digress again..

Another feature of the Botanical garden and the purpose of this post is the Herb garden . Situated on the south western side not far from the Conservatorium of Music there is a great selection of herbs from Australia and other parts of the world. It’s a treat to walk around and sample so many different kinds of herbs, some of which are for culinary purposes while others are ornamental or simply for fragrance. The Thai Basil took my award for most alluring while the “surprise award” went for the numerous varieties of Lavender (Lavender cotton grass took honors in that category).

A few years back in my pre-gardening days I wandered through the herb garden with my now wife. We were both amazed and shocked that there were a number of people walking through the garden putting more than a sample in their collection bags, presumably for their upcoming dinners. Is this OK? Are the Botanical gardens for the people? When does a showcase garden turn into a communal garden? In my mind I’d say when said pilferers help maintain said garden. But is that the case? Perhaps I should look up Adam Smith’s thoughts on common property, perhaps those pilferers should as well. 🙂

If you have the chance, get down to Sydney’s Royal Botanical gardens. Give yourself a day to wander around, take a packed lunch and enjoy the oldest structured garden in Australia.

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